Could Kick Start Douglas County be the push sedentary residents need to get outside and get moving? Michelle Horn of YMCA of Douglas County hopes the summer fitness program does just that.
The YMCA, Roseburg Parks and Recreation, Architrave and other organizations have teamed up to provide more than 300 opportunities this summer to start exercising.
“We all know where we rate in the state on fitness levels. We just want to get everybody moving,” said Horn, the YMCA’s healthy lifestyle director.
Douglas County ranked 30th out of 33 Oregon counties for health and longevity, according to an annual study by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. According to the report, the county’s poor health is fueled by high levels of poverty and a 33 percent obesity rate.
Kick Start will formally begin at 6 tonight with Zumba on the Half Shell. The dance-style workout at the Stewart Park band shell in Roseburg will be the first in a regular series of Wednesday fitness classes to be offered at the same place and time throughout the summer.
Most of the summer fitness programs are free or available for a nominal per-class fee from $1 to $3. They include Pilates, power walking, fitness boot camp, yoga in the park, Zumba and tai chi. Other activities include free swim times, group hikes and nutrition classes.
Roseburg Parks and Recreation Program Coordinator Val Ligon said the goal is to get people off their couches.
“It’s exciting, I think. This might be the push people need. If they find something they enjoy doing hopefully they’ll keep doing it,” Ligon said.
About 20 seniors got the jump on the summer’s fitness movement Tuesday morning by attending the twice-weekly Outdoor Low-Impact Fitness Class at Fir Grove Park in Roseburg. The Parks and Recreation Department offers the course year-round, but moved it outside Tuesday for the first time this summer.
Instructor Jamie DeLapp put the group through gentle paces. They made swimming motions with their arms, moved their feet and pulled on brightly colored resistance bands. The bands look more like party streamers than traditional exercise equipment. Ligon said they are an effective substitute for weights, using the body’s own resistance to improve muscle strength and tone.
Mary Velho, 73, of Roseburg said she hates to miss a class. She said she has attended the class for several years, long enough to see people who had trouble getting around improve their core strength and become more mobile.
“We love it. We absolutely love it,” she said. “I don’t care what level you are, Jamie always has something that will work for you. It’s just great.”
Ron Evenson, 82, of Melrose said he has attended the class for more than two years and finds it helps his joints stay loose. He also enjoys socializing with the others who join the class.
Evenson said he would recommend the class to seniors looking for some exercise this summer.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “You meet a lot of people and you make a lot of friends.”
Roseburg resident Sybil Harms said the course has improved her balance.
“I recommend it,” she said. “I’m 80 years old and I really enjoy it,”
About a half-hour after the low impact class began, another group joined up at the YMCA in Roseburg for 1½ hour walk. Ultimate Striders with Judy meets year-round Tuesdays and Thursdays outside the skating rink at the YMCA of Douglas County.
They start with a short walk to the Stewart Park Pavilion, following instructor Judy Kolar and her whippet, Jillie, who serves as mascot. At the pavilion they stretch their muscles for the morning walk, which takes a different route each time.
The Striders hope to increase their numbers of participants through the summer Kick Start program.
Charlene Rook, 64, of Roseburg noted the Striders get a good workout.
“Some people like to stroll. We walk and we walk hard,” Rook said.
Rook brought her sister Kathy Irwin to try it out Tuesday. Irwin said she recently retired from Fred Meyer. She said she walked a lot on the job but didn’t get a real aerobic workout. Irwin said she plans to continue joining the Striders’ walks.
“It’s not that I really enjoy it. It’s just I need to be doing it,” said Irwin, 67, of Roseburg.
Kathy Greenwell, also 67, of Roseburg said she is usually a “fair weather” walker, though Tuesday’s cool, cloudy skies did not deter her.
“I like the walking and the fresh air,” Greenwell said. “Walking you see another side of Roseburg you don’t see from the car.”
Greenwell’s friend, Gloria Roberts, 66, of Roseburg joined the Striders for the first time Tuesday. She said her regular walking partner has not been available and she wants to try walking with a group.
She said she likes the Kick Start idea.
“I think it’s great,” Roberts said. “Sometimes people just need a little encouragement.”
• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or email@example.com.